Beginners Guide to Metal Detecting

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Cory Haasnoot

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Without a doubt, metal detecting has become one of the most popular adventure hobbies out there. For many people, the concept of being able to head out there and find the various mysteries encased in the world all around us is very exciting indeed. That’s why I decided to write the beginner’s guide to metal detecting.

That’s why so many people today are choosing to get involved in metal detecting. Metal detecting, though, can seem quite like a challenging place, to begin with, if you are not used to it. So, with this article, we intend to show you just how to get started in what can be a confusing, complex industry!

Metal detecting – a fun way to spend some time

The main thing to notice when you choose to get involved with metal detecting is how fun it can be. Many people see it as a solitary experience, but it really does not have to be at all. Metal detecting is not something you should see as a solitary or dour experience. In fact, it’s absolutely nothing of the sort. Often, metal detecting is something that you can easily do in a group or with friends.

It allows you to get out there, to explore the world, and to see a bit more of the place than you would have first intended. Metal detection is a very fun, engaging experience – something that allows you to meet new people, spend time exploring, and even unearthing your own tiny pieces of history along the way.

You can even use it as a way to make some extra money. Who knows what you will find when you are out searching? It could be something very historical indeed. However, if you do intend to get into metal detecting then you should make sure that you do so for the fun and the satisfaction, not the chance to make money.

For most of us, the money-making is purely a by-product of being able to go out there, have some fun, and enjoy the experience as a whole.

Many great finds have been located by people who are only just starting out. Meanwhile, many experts have spent decades looking for “the one” – that find which makes all of their searching and discoveries worthwhile.

In this article, then, we’re going to take a much closer look at what can make metal detecting such a fun and satisfying way to spend your time.

Is metal detecting good for you?

kid metal detecting

Given the fact that metal detecting is essentially the art of hiking and exploring the outdoors, it’s very good for you. The fresh air, the ability to get out there and enjoy some walking around, and the chance to explore new places are all great positives.

Add in the fact that you could be meeting new people and/or strengthening the bond with friends, and it really is easy to see why so many people love getting involved in metal detecting. It’s an activity that anyone of any age or lifestyle could truly enjoy!

Just some of the reasons you might think about getting involved include:

Explore the world

Few other reasons are so useful for getting us out of the house as going to explore the world with metal detecting. It allows you to walk around, enjoy the fresh air, and simply enjoy going for a nice, long walk as you take in whatever you choose to do. It’s the most effective way possible for you to make sure you can move around, see the place, and just enjoy a bit of flexible freedom.

It’s like going for a hunt without the firepower!

Expand your horizons

A good way to enjoy a spot of metal detecting is to go out and start seeing parts of the world that you wouldn’t normally. Local beaches, parks, hike areas, and canals, etc. are all good places to head out for a bit of enjoyment. It’s a big reason to make sure you can start to expand your horizons and start enjoying the experience like never before.

Expanding your horizons is just one of the main reasons to consider getting involved in metal detecting. It’s not only fun, but it’s something that you should find immensely satisfying!

You can learn about the world

Not only do you get to see the world, but you also get to learn much more about it. There is something deeply satisfying about being able to go for a walk among numerous historical artifacts and items of historical importance.

Not only will you get to enjoy a lot of time spent finding bits of history, but you could even get to claim a finding as your own. Who knows what you will find? This is a big reason to go metal detecting. It’s a chance to get up-close and personal with some exceptional history!

Find a new social group

From local metal detecting clubs to online chat groups and the like, you can find many ways to interact with fellow metal hunters. This is a tremendous way to make sure you can find a whole new social group and ensure you can enjoy the experience a bit easier than ever before. On top of that, it should go a long way to making sure you can enjoy a much simpler, easier social experience.

If you want to share your love of metal detecting but cannot find anyone in your own family/social group, you can find many people online.

Keep some amazing delights

From nuggets of gold to coins from ages gone by, you can find all manner of awesome finds with the help of metal detecting. Many people can find items to donate to schools, museums, and local historical clubs. Others can find a good way to make a few pennies – or more – from their finds.

It’s not about making you a millionaire, but with some luck and a bit of digging around (literally), you could find something like this. So, why not take the time to look for this and try it out yourself?

Getting started as a metal detectorist

Man digging and metal detecting.

So, now that you know that this is something you would actively like to try out, where will you start?

There is a lot to think about when it comes to getting started as a metal detector. The main thing that you will need to do, of course, is picking out a quality metal detector. We’ll go into that briefly, but it’s important to note just now that to get started as a metal detector you need to have a good, solid idea of what to buy. Below, though, you’ll get some great metal detector recommendations.

Building a basic kit

One thing you will need before you can do anything is to have a basic metal detecting kit. Naturally, this would come with a metal detector but what else would you need? If you intend to get involved in being a regular on the metal detecting scene, then we recommend that you at least look to get all of the following items included as part of your regular metal detecting kit:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing. Ideally, you want waterproof clothing and/or a windbreaker jacket.
  • Comfortable shoes, such as hiking boots or a pair of wellington boots if needed.
  • Protection for your hands, such as a pair of gloves that you can still use LCD screens with.
  • Protection for your skin, such as getting some form of insect repellent.
  • Sun cream, too, might be something you need to buy if you are out in summer.
  • A notepad and/or an application on your mobile device for logging your finds.
  • Either a metal detecting partner app or some form of the mapping application.
  • Headphones if you choose to work with a metal detector using headphones.
  • Batteries as you might need to change your metal detector during the trip.
  • A basic first-aid package, so that you can handle yourself if you get hurt.
  • Supplies such as a small portion of long-lasting snacks and also plenty of water.
  • Any kind of product for digging, such as trowels.
  • Cleaning tools to make sure you can clean down your finds.

If you have all of the above packaged into a large hiking bag, you should have no problem at all in getting things done. It can be tough to do all of this on your own, but it should be by no means impossible if you put your mind to it. this is why we recommend that you take the time to get used to building a list of all the above-needed items.

Beginner-friendly metal detectors

Garrett Ace 300 Metal Detector

If you are just starting out on the exciting journey of using a metal detector, you should be looking to get started as soon as you can. One way to do this is to start looking at any of the following metal detecting tools.

Garrett AT Pro

Check Price - Garrett AT Pro

Easy to use and one of the best metal detectors on the market, the Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector is a proper 5/5 starting place. It’s probably the best on the marketplace for finding coins, so if you will be aiming for smaller finds then make sure you look at the AT Pro.

It’s very easy to use, making it a fine choice for just about anyone who is at the beginning of their metal detecting journey. At the same time, though, this is probably the best high-end metal detector so even as you get more advanced you should have no problem at all in using this to your advantage.

It’s also a great choice for those who would like to buy something that should last them for many years. It has all of the features one needs to make metal detecting a fun, engaging experience.

Minelab E-TRAC

Check Price - Minelab E-Trac

Despite comfortably being above the normal price range, the Minelab E-TRAC is a fantastic choice for most people. This is a solid, coil-cover, USB-cable using solution that comes with a great starting arrangement.

It has a range of useful solutions, such as using a 1600Ma rechargeable battery that can be easily charged up between uses. It also comes with Koss UR30 headphones which will make it very easy indeed for you to see what you are doing. A fine choice indeed for anyone who is looking for a bit of help with metal detection at an advanced level.

Though one should expect to pay anything above $1,000 for this, making it a bit out of the price of many beginners, it does make a fine choice for just about anyone who is getting started with the industry. Without a doubt, it’s a good item to own for those who are looking for something very specific.

Garrett Ace 200

Check Price - Garrett Ace 200

The Garrett Ace 200 is a fine starting place and is far more affordable than either of the above. This comes with 3 layers of Tone ID, allowing for simple and easy identification. It also comes with a strong sensitivity adjustment and a large target graphic ID LCD meter. On top of that, it can give you a good indication of how deeply anything is buried – including coins.

This also comes with some excellent push-button controls as well as a touch-and-go operation. It’s also got headphone compatibility if you would rather listen to the input through the headphones. It’s one of the best starting places we would suggest, as it’s so easy to work with and offers such a variable, reliable solution.

For a beginner, the Garrett Ace 200 should help you to manage the most basic and entry-level discoveries you search for.


Buying other metal detectors

Of course, you might find that none of the above options is a good starting place for you – and that is totally fine. Buying a metal detector means knowing a lot about them, and it can be a tough decision to make.

If you do wish to avoid any of the above options, though, we do recommend that you take the time to go through the following questions in your head about what you actually might need:

  1. First off, ask yourself what kind of money you are willing to spend on a metal detector. You should have a set budget in mind, based on what you can realistically afford.
  2. The budget is just part of the decision-making process, though. You should also look into factors like metal detecting types – what will you actually be looking for in the main?
  3. What will you be looking for, and where? Some metal detectors handle mud and dirt better than they handle stone, for example. Work out whereas much as what you will be detecting!
  4. Also, be sure that you know how much time you will be spending detecting. The longer, the more likely it is that you will need a very specific kind of battery.
  5. How technologically adept are you? Some metal detectors are very bare bones. Meanwhile, other options will pair up with other apps and the like to give extra functionality.

Ask yourself the above five questions, and you should have a better idea about what you are actually going to be buying. This is a big part of the process for us, and we think it’s something you should absolutely look to invest some more time and effort into trying.

Beginning your metal detecting journey

Silhouette of a man holding a metal detector

Now that you have some ideas about what you need to get started (and what matters when buying a metal detector), it’s time to look at beginning your journey. Before you do, though, we recommend you read our guide on metal detector frequencies. Frequencies are a whole new topic entirely, and it’s something you should look to understand a bit closer before you move on any further.

If you intend to get started with the art of metal detecting, then, we recommend that you take the following factors into account.

Always evaluate where you are going

First off, make sure you take the time to look at where you will be going on any given trip. Always wear clothing suited to where you will be going. It might seem like a nice day at your home, but is it going to stay that way?

If in doubt, always pack some waterproof clothing. You should always have at least some kind of waterproof clothing, some kind of windbreaker jacket, and accessories like gloves and/or a scarf. You never know when the weather can seem more challenging than it seems!

Always take the time to fully pack up the attire that you might need for your trip as it will ensure you can enjoy a safer, simpler experience.

Keep your detector dry

Unless you buy a waterproof detector (you can learn more about metal detector types here), you will need to keep it free from the rain. We recommend bringing a plastic bag for doing this. This keeps the rain off your detector, but it will not weaken or limit the quality of the signal whatsoever.

That’s why we recommend you look to always keep the metal detector dry. Otherwise, this can have a negative impact on the performance levels and standards of your detector in the rain.

Bring digging tools as needed

Lesche 18" T-handle Sampson Mini shovel

Make sure you always have some kind of digging utensil with you. you will need to be able to dig up anything that you find, right?

So, make sure you bring with you at least a trowel and a spade. Make sure you can dig up safely, though, and be sure to make sure you are digging on land that you can legally tread upon (more on that below). This is very important to understand, as it can help you to find the discoveries you make.

Bring some cleaning tools

Though some finds will need more than a clean and a brush down to make the changes you need, you can find that some cleaning tools will be useful. A cleaning brush and some bottles of cleaning water will help you to easily clean down all of those tools and make sure they are suitable for usage as you would have expected.

Make sure you have cleaning tools as this can help you to quickly work out what you have found without any of the usual uncertainty.

Digging Deeper: How to Clean Metal Detecting Finds

Get a carrying case

Another useful suggestion is to make sure you always bring everything with you in some kind of carrying case. This is going to be useful for keeping all of your finds in one spot and making sure you aren’t spending too long trying to find places to store everything.

If you can, find something with the proper compartments and make sure you can avoid any of the usual stress you would expect. This can help you to keep tools and finds all in the right places, making it much easier to look around and keep discoveries safe.

This land is your land…

Green field with sunset

Now while that might be a fantastically uplifting song, This Land is Your Land might not be the case when it comes to metal detection. Depending on where you are in the world, the legality of metal detecting can become very complex indeed. While the art of metal detecting is very rarely seen as an illegal activity anywhere, it’s not something you should do without seeing where you can go.

In many parts of the world, all land within a certain country will have some kind of ownership. as such, you would need to have permission before you could start sauntering around the place to find something.

You are not legally permitted to use a metal detecting kit on ancient monuments and land for the most part; to do so, you would need to be given legal permission to do so. It’s your duty as a metal detectorist to make sure you contact the relevant people involved to gain permission.

Why? Because you should not have to worry whatsoever about metal detecting coming back to bite you. That’s why being prepared is such a good idea if you wish to move forward. Always note the location of any finds that you locate as you go about your duties, and make sure that you report them to the associated authority.

If you find something on private land that you do not have permission for. It could become quite problematic for you. As such, you should look to make some informed choices and stay ahead of the game.

There is no benefit to needless risk-taking with regards to collecting treasure, so keep that in mind. Don’t take risks when you have no need and/or incentive to do so, and you’ll benefit long-term.

Getting started – remember to have fun

Man searching for treasure with metal detector

While this only covers the very beginnings of being a metal detectorist, we hope that you feel suitably inspired to get started. You should look to read into the following, though:

  1. The best kind of metal detectors to buy based on our chosen activities.
  2. The best metal detector accessories so that you can get started ASAP.
  3. The hidden gems that you might find if you were to search in various areas.
  4. Land registration and legality for any location that you intend to start hunting in.
  5. Ethics and regulations with regards to discovering where you are from.
  6. Details about what you can do to sell/move on anything you do find legally.

If you take the time to find out more about the above, as well as choosing the right metal detector, you should be much more likely to see results in the years to come. This is why we recommend that you take a look at our various options below.

Not only will this help you to enjoy the experience of metal detecting, but it will ensure you can feel confident as you move through the levels of experience you need. So, where will your first metal detecting experience be?

I hope you enjoyed the beginner’s guide to metal detecting! If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

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